So long, Summer

I went on a blogging hiatus this summer. It’s been a summer of figuring out some difficult and personal things. I’m not sure I know what I’m really doing yet, but at least I don’t want to die all the time anymore. So that’s good. Anyway, all my thoughts/reflections surrounded this thing and I couldn’t bring myself to write about anything else but (despite the cultural trend) I don’t think everything needs to be blogged about. And yet, I’m someone who believes in being transparent. I think that when we open up about our deepest hurts it frees us. Isn’t there always someone who goes, “You, too? I thought I was the only one.” So, maybe one day I will share my story on the interwebs. Maybe.

But today I will say goodbye to summer.

Goodbye Iowa State Fair. I loved the Maple Bacon Funnel Cake (and Hot Lips, Cajun Cheese Curds, Lemonade, Bacon Wrapped Rib on a Stick, Corn Dogs, Turkey Legs, etc.) and the big yellow slide NEVER gets old. I think it’s the only place where you can watch a pig or cow give birth publicly and live. I love that you can walk through a building of fine art and go next door to see a 3,500 lb bull all while eating a deep fried Oreo. God bless you, Iowa.

Image

Image

 Goodbye Summer vacations. Los Angeles was a crazy dream. I saw so much art, my cup overfloweth. It was great to be with my best friend and see his whole new world. I got to take a train and see the Kretzus: Burgers on the beach at sunset and Sprinkles ice cream. They know how to treat a girl right. Hotel rooftop party. New friends. Dodgers game. Freezing ocean water. Epic fireworks. Josh Groban. Comedy shows. Hot dog trucks. Pop punk. Pretty views.

And the 4th of July Ozark Family Vacation was perfect, too. Basking in the sun. Reading in the tube. Swim up bars. Water slides. Grandma’s cooking. Birthday cake cheesecake. Sleeping in. Coffee on the dock. Family game nights. New Girl reruns. Morning boat rides. Aaaahh…

IMG_5862-pola

IMG_4836-pola

Goodbye Summer weddings/wedding festivities. I had the privilege of being in two weddings this summer. They just so happened to be one weekend right after the other. It took me a full week to recuperate after all was said and done. Aaron & Magie’s wedding was elegant and classy, just like them. I don’t know better hosts. The ceremony was beautiful. The limo ride to Des Moines was especially memorable. The photographer became our best friend. The wedding party had way too much fun together. The reception menu was to die for (Macaroni and cheese bar!? Get out of here with that). The music was live and the party went all night long. I stood on the groom’s side, which meant I got to be one of the guys for a night. I smoked my first cigar, drank my first scotch, and made my first Barbie stripper cake.

IMG_5687-pola

IMG_5891-pola

Then, for Hilary’s bachelorette party we got to be the Barbie strippers. Just kidding! I did not wear chocolate frosting anywhere on my body. In fact, there were lots of clothes involved and not a male in sight. Colyn & Hilary’s wedding was sweet, simple, and so full of love. They both do amazingly at making everyone feel appreciated and included. I have never met a couple more full of gratitude. They each had a brother officiate the ceremony and Hilary wore my wedding dress (I think it looked better on her! She’s stunning). Hilary works with refugees and has headed up a garden that many of them work on. I loved that so many of the people she works with had a part in her big day. There was a huge table of produce from the garden that guests could fill up a bag with and take home as a wedding favor, a whole group of refugee children came down the aisle and sprinkled flowers before Hilary made her grand entrance (cutest thing ever!!), and they had a potluck reception which featured food from all over the world. Friends gathered later that night for a post-reception backyard dance party and joined together Sunday morning for a farewell pancake breakfast. Group hug.

IMG_5770-pola

IMG_6008-pola

Goodbye Summer job. I loved being a nanny for Patrick and Charlotte this summer! We had lemonade stands, went berry picking, visited the State Historical Museum, Science Center, Zoo, and Art Museum, did crafts, science experiments, saw Monster’s University, built a fort, played at the park, went to the fair, took a couple of day trips to Pella, had picnics, and spent a lot of time at the pool. Being a kid is full of simple pleasures and it was refreshing to revisit so many of them.

IMG_4404-pola

Goodbye Summer concerts. This summer I went to three concerts. I’m going to list them and make you all confused about my music interests. I saw Josh Groban in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl, which is ridiculous. I got to experience every 50 year old woman’s dream. Andrew and I giggled through the whole thing but loved every minute of it. There were fireworks at the end to top it all off. I also scored a damn good seat at the T Swift concert and had the pleasure of dancing and belting out every lyric with my best friend (who called and texted into radio stations trying to win tickets each previous year with me. I know, I know. We’re those people). Tay puts on a good show. There’s no denying it.  Last, but not least, I saw The Lone Bellow and Brandi Carlile on the River. Outdoor concerts on perfect summer nights are one of the best things ever. Good ol’ knee slappin’, soul soothing music, blankets, and beer.

IMG_4934-pola

IMG_5654-pola

IMG_4756-pola

You were good to me, summer. See you next year.

No more faux love

Disclaimer: I’m not looking for you to pick apart my thoughts and show me the error of my ways. I’m a big fan of thoughtful, productive, well-behaved conversation which unfortunately doesn’t come in the form of blog comments. If you’d like to participate in that, let’s set something up.

I can’t get over how heartbreaking and beautiful this blog post from The Registered Runaway is

“But, sometimes, God delivers us out so we can sprint smack dab into Him. His followers have hurt me, yes, but the God who is good, the God who saves me, the God who says- Father is too informal, call me your Abba, pulls me in close and fills up all those empty places with his deep, day-and-night, everlasting love.

And it’s more than enough.”

A read worth your time.

I hope it makes you think, or at least feel something.

I’m not one to parade my political opinions around on social media. I grew up in a fairly conservative family whose stances I am aware of but have never been pressured to make my own. So, even though no one is asking me to do this and maybe no one wants me to do this, well…I’m coming out, in my own way.

I’m a Jesus follower and I will love, be friends with, and support my gay friends who want to get married. For me, being a Christian is much more a way of life than solely a system of beliefs or a book rules. I want to live a life that people see Jesus in. I want people to feel a confrontational, reverberating, powerful love when they get to know me so that I have the opportunity to tell them where it comes from. For me, the reality is that God meets people on individual levels and in individual circumstances. They’re all different and none of them are more or less “right” than the other. You can’t put Him in a box, He doesn’t even fit inside our heads. His ways and thoughts are much higher than mine or yours. I know many people in my community and family would disagree with my view. That’s fine. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’re right. But I’ve learned that God is much less about giving permission to do or not do something, to believe or not believe something and much more about having and giving grace to those who do and do not do, who believe and do not believe.

I think its easy for a lot of Christians to say they love gay people, (even if/when they don’t actually have relationships with gay people) they just don’t love their lifestyle or think that gay sex is immoral, wrong, unnatural, etc. But to really love someone means to give love as a gift without expecting anything in return, right? Unrequited love. The love God has for us that we are supposed to mirror. My question to those people would be, are you really loving gay people, or deep down are you expecting that your love is going to eventually influence them enough that they will change, have a sudden come to Jesus moment, realize their sin, etc? Can you really love someone if you are willing to be nice to them but aren’t willing to accept who they are?  I ask this because it’s a question I had to ask myself.

As Americans, I think our perception of marriage is very small. We only look at what we’ve been exposed to, what has been “natural” or our own culture.  It’s interesting to me how people look to Songs of Solomon as this beautiful, erotic, love story that we quote for marriages but the reality is Solomon was writing about one of 700 wives and 300 concubines. Yeah, what an excellent picture of marital devotion. So what do you say about Christians in places like rural Uganda who still practice polygamy because it’s been ingrained in their culture and is all over Biblical texts or to people who are born with both sets of genitals?

I have a hard time believing that when I die one day and I’m having a nice glass of wine on heaven’s porch with God (hey, a girl can dream a little) that He will get mad at me supporting gay marriage.  I think my life is about so much more than that and I’m doing the best I can with the heart He has given me, the experiences He has used to shape me, and the will He allows me to have. I’ll let Him be the judge and no one else.

Love,

Taylor

These are my confessions

I love to read and I am a very self-aware self-help reader. Not self-help books per se, but I read because it provides a certain therapy for me. I suppose I feel like I will find life’s answers hidden in an obscure book that I stumble upon. I’m a sucker for a good story, and if it happens to be a true one- even better. There is a quote from a memoir called Still by Lauren Winner that floored me when I first read it because it encompassed exactly how I feel,

“When something needs to be fixed, when I need something to change, my first and abiding instinct is to read. I think I can read my way to a solution Or at least an evasion.”

While I don’t believe this is inherently bad (it offers depth, perspective, leads to growth,etc.), reflecting on it has led me to the realization that I do a pretty horrible job of trusting myself. In light of some big life decisions I have ahead of me, I find that I keep inhaling books with other people’s thoughts, stories, insights, and opinions in order to form my own. I’m the girl who has documents on her computer saved with quotes and excerpts from books. I’m the girl who you’ll find sitting on the couch armed with highlighter and inkpen, ready to make her mark. I know that I must have my own gut and intuition but I become paralyzed at the thought of giving myself permission to accept that it is right or true. I am a chronic over analyzer. I must excessively research. I must calculate the best solution. I must learn from everyone else’s mistakes so I don’t make my own. I’m terrified of doing the wrong thing. This means I don’t take risks. I get comfortable living in a state of ambivalence. You get the picture.

I’m not sure that there is really a point to this. It’s more of a confession or a 20-something realization that will hopefully catapult me into becoming more self-assured, gutsy, and confident, with more fiction on my reading list.

Love,

Taylor

Lately…

Well.

I made it through the busiest finals week of my collegiate career and graduated last Saturday. And then on Sunday I moved. This is the third time in my life I have had to move the week of finals. Never on purpose, but leases and classes always end at the exact same time in my life apparently.  Blah.

On a happier note, I was accepted to both graduate schools I applied to (but don’t even ask me what I’m going to do because I have no idea) and landed a volunteer internship with ArtsFest Midwest. This is the other arts festival held at the State Fairgrounds the weekend of the Des Moines Art Festival.

I start my summer nanny job soon, and let’s just say I plan on dominating at this. I have been making a really sweet summer bucket list for us to accomplish. I mean, the kids have already asked me for my autograph, so I must be doing something right *hair flip*.  I know that going to the pool will practically be an everyday event, so I went looking for a new swimsuit this week. I must say, it is really strange to go shopping for a suit the first week of May (that in itself is actually normal) in your gloves, scarf, and winter coat because it is 35 degrees and SNOWING.

Image

I’ve been able to get a lot of good QT in with friends and family lately- always a good thing. Painting and planting, attempting to find the best Mexican (with the best margs) in Des Moines, dance parties, making and delivering May Day baskets, sleepovers, drinking wine and eating fancy cheese on the front porch, FaceTiming friends in faraway places, and last night I got to be a part of the surprise engagement party for these two cuties.

Image

Two of the most selfless, patient, compassionate people I know. I seriously cannot think of a match better made. I am over the moon excited for their life together to begin. They already have an incredible impact on their community and I am anxious to see that grow wherever life takes them.  Congratulations Colyn and Hilary. All my love to you both! 

Love, 

Taylor

Chitta Vritti

Chitta Vritti is the Sanksrit term for “mind chatter”.

Yesterday, this was brought up during my yoga class. I sat on my mat, eyes closed, “hands at heart center”, and I listened to something like this…

Acknowledge or become aware of its presence. The constant flow of thoughts speeding through your mind. Noticing the ones that flee after only a moment, and then ones that circle around over and over again. 

Accept that this is where you live most of the time- in your head. Accept that you are often cut off from joy because of this mental dialogue that can be so full of doubts, judgements, and endlessness. 

And then…quiet. Be present in this moment. Not who you were 30 seconds ago. Not who you’re going to be in an hour from now. You are whole and enough in this moment. Our thoughts and emotions are with us, they never go anywhere, but we can learn to quiet them. To practice stillness. To not let the chitta vritti conquer us.

Stillness can be scary. Its scary how difficult it is to get there. There is something alarming about the way your mind will unfold if you let it. If you stop the distraction and noise and truly enter in. For me, it is often associated with confusion and loneliness. But I am learning that it is okay for me to be still in the loneliness. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, maybe more. Maybe there is something waiting for me there. Maybe it isn’t so scary after all. Maybe it’s a gift that I can give myself and at times is given to me. 

I unintentionally get so wrapped up in the to-do lists of life that I forget to practice freedom.

I get so wrapped up in the values and “rules” that are ingrained in me that I forget to reflect and grow by questioning them. 

I get so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I forget to notice what is going on around me.

I get so wrapped up in knowing and seeing the counterfeit connections of media that I crave real relationship- real touch. 

I can get so wrapped up in the loving of others and forget that if I’m not loving of myself first, the quality of my love for others is certainly not at its best. 

What does your mind chatter keep you from being aware of? What does stillness have for you? 

Love, 

Taylor

Image

 

The Water Ride

The issue of clean water along with our overuse/waste of water as Americans (Oh, what? Yeah! That glass of water you didn’t finish and poured down the sink? That would have been saved and used to the very last drop in most parts of the world) has become a hot button topic. In recent years I can’t tell you how many campaigns and fundraisers I’ve seen to build water wells and develop water filters in under resourced areas. To be honest, the over saturation and lack of real exposure to the issue numbed me, as I’m sure it does for most people.

But then I saw how clean water impacted the hurricane affected villages of Haiti and the rural community of Lukodi, Uganda where I worked last summer. The University of New Hampshire Engineers Without Borders team visited over the summer and tested local borehole wells in Lukodi. According to the community members they spoke with, having clean water is top priority. Waterborne diseases from the community’s water supply led to severe illnesses (I’ve personally had a couple of waterborne illnesses and let me tell you-they are very debilitating). They found that roughly 80% of the community’s water supply was contaminated with E. coli. The team then worked to disinfect the wells and educate people on how to protect the water from contamination and fix issues that arise (“Offering a Helping Hand“).

Not only is the sanitation of water crucial to a community’s well-being, but the availability of it is, too. When our Ugandan friends would fetch water, they would carry a full jerry can (which is roughly 45 lbs when full) on top of their head and one in each hand. So, that’s like 135 lbs of water to carry! And most people have to walk MILES to get that. Some kids can’t even go to school when they have to fetch water. It becomes a huge day-long endeavor.

Picture 1
This is a jerry can, in case you didn’t know (photo by Megan Cook)

How do I let this change the way I view and treat water? I don’t take a shower every day. Call me gross, I don’t care. Unless I have excessively sweat or smell bad, I don’t need to take one. Now my goal is going to be to turn the shower water off in between my rinsing and repeating. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. It’s really the little things. I can water my house plants with the water I’m done drinking rather than toss it down the drain. I can shut the faucet off when brushing my teeth. I can avoid buying bottled water. And I can do my small part to encourage others in doing the same. Which brings me to (drum roll please)… The Water Ride.

The Water Ride is happening May 11 in Des Moines. Emily Boyd, Des Moines’ The Move Project and Des Moines Water Works are teaming up with wonderful volunteers to put on a bike ride where 100% (!!!!!) of the proceeds will go toward the $50,000 goal of building a solar-powered well and trench in a TBD location in Africa. There are 85, 40, and 20 (family friendly) mile bike routes to choose from. Prices go up April 12, so reserve a spot here. For additional information click here. Come to reach a personal goal, ride with friends, eat some good food, and do a small thing to make a BIG impact in a community across the world. Spread the word!

Click picture below to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ on Facebook

549982_473967639333065_1695089229_nLove, Taylor

Selfie Nation

For all intents and purposes this is not meant to be offensive. Have a sense of humor.

I have grown up in the boom of social media. From the mirror pictures of Myspace to the filtered foods of Instagram, I have been there done that. I get it. 

I get that I live in a culture that looooooves to post pictures of themselves. I mean, the average American has at some point (myself included) spent at least fifteen minutes of their day taking sixty pictures of themselves in front of the bathroom lights or in the car trying to get the perfect one to post. And then they wait for the “likes” to roll in. I guess we’re all slightly neurotic and need  the digital validation of others. Whatever. But hey, people, I shouldn’t see your face more than the person I live with on a daily basis without having any physical interaction with you. And if you come to mind, the first thing I think of shouldn’t be the rate at which you pose for your camera phone. 

But what really gets me is the selfie captions. The following are adaptions of real selfie captions:

SELFIE

Caption: Had such a great time with my family and friends today. So blessed. 

(Awesome. Then why aren’t you posting a picture of your friends and family? Why am I looking at you?!)

SELFIE

Caption: Making pizza and staying in for movie night.

(Cool. Can I see you shoving that pizza in your mouth instead of smiling creepily at me?)

SELFIE

Caption: On my way to work!

(I really hope you’re not driving and taking pictures of yourself at the same time. What would you say if you got in an accident? I guess if you died, at least everyone would see your face of death/you face death) 

SELFIE

Caption: Mini skirt Monday

(What? There is no such thing. You made that up.)

SELFIE

Caption: 75 minute work out. 30 minute run. 50 squats. 100 crunches. Feeling fit.

(I mean, you’re right, everyone loves seeing your sweat. So inspiring. But this is an important public announcement because…?)

So selfiers- no more self deprecation! You have the ability to tell your followers important things with that face of yours. If you’re going to the trouble of posting those selfies, let your face bare a valuable message about what is happening in the world around us. Things like:

Image
33 Chilean miners found trapped but alive
Image
The number of people fleeing the conflict in Syria has reached 1 million
Image
Due to global warming, arctic shipping routes are now open
Image
Hugo Chavez died

Love, 

Taylor

YUM

 

 

Cookies for breakfast?!

Score. 

And with these, you don’t need to feel guilty. Or that’s what I tell myself, because I’ve had like 6 today. Seriously, you guys these are sooooo good. 

Thanks Emily for the perfect snow day treat.

Banana Coconut Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

1.5 cups of whole wheat all purpose flour

1 cup of sucanat (or sugar)

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of sea salt

3/4 tsp of cinnamon 

1 tsp of vanilla

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup of coconut oil, melted (or butter)

2 eggs

2-3 mashed bananas 

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and/or almonds

1 3/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 shredded coconut

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Image

BOWL 1: Combine sucanat, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut oil, and bananas. Mix until creamy, add eggs and mix again.

Image

BOWL 2: Combine flour, baking soda, rolled oats, and sea salt. Add little by little to the other bowl, mixing as you go. 

Image

BOWL 3: Add chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts (I also threw in some dried cranberries I had on hand-yummy!)

Image

Drop by spoonful onto a cookie sheet (I had to use my fingers a lot- they’re sticky) and bake 10-12 minutes. 

Let cool….HA! Yeah, right. 

Love, 
Taylor

 

 

 

Don’t Skip Girls Night

One time the three men I so graciously live with asked me what girls talk about when they get together. I didn’t really know what to say. Living with guys, I have noticed their conversations for the most part are reserved to politics, food, sports, and friends. So what do I talk about with my friends? I happened to be on my way out the door for LIT girls (aka book club), so I promised to take notes and report back to them.

My consensus:  What DON’T girls talk about when they get together?

For real. In an hour we are capable of touching on birthing methods, blogs, Roth IRAs, books (obviously), ex-boyfriends, how weird the Old Testament is, the Paleo diet, the Kardashians, poop, exercise, cats, how often we shower, beer, and memories.

Isn’t that amazing? Ha…

Being around men all the time I have my moments of seriously, that fart was not necessary and how do you get that little pool of pee on the back of the toilet EVERY time? and I think I’m going to projectile vomit if I have to hear anything else about your fantasy draft. But I would actually call myself a guy’s girl. I feel perfectly at ease in a group of them. They think I’m pretty cool. I can bro down. I do bro down. A lot. If you’ve never met my other half, he is a boy through and through. However, I have noticed there are times I feel like I have to ‘suppress the Jess’ (New Girl reference, sorry) in order to be cool with the dudes. 

So, there is something really refreshing about being with a handful of ladies. About wine and cupcakes. About nail polish and giggling. About being asked a bunch of questions and sincerely listened to. About crafting lovely things together. About hugs and understanding. About being able to comfortably dance immodestly and being complimented on your shoes.

And I read these in a recent psychology journal:

– Female friends enhance a woman’s physical and emotional health at every stage of life.

– Husbands frequently pre-decease their wives, so girlfriends become a vital system of support.

– Being with girlfriends helps women feel more confident, better understood, and more relaxed- making her a better wife, mother, lover, or partner.

Image

Here’s to embracing lady parts and stuff.

Love,

Taylor